Introduction: With the coronavirus outbreak and resulting quarantines has come financial hardship for millions of people around the world, including many designers and those in the creative fields. Just as civilians are doing their part to help out their fellow humans in need, a variety of companies have been offering their products for free or at reduced cost. I’ve compiled the following list of deals with graphic designers, freelancers, creatives, and small business owners in mind. Keep checking back, as I’ve been updating this article as new offerings become available.
Please note: As you may already be aware, some services will begin charging after a free trial period has run it’s course. So if you have a credit card or other payment source on file, make sure to cancel your account prior to the trial ending (if you wish to avoid being charged). With that said, these multi-month trial periods can be a great way to try out a new service for free or at low cost. Also, for services or products that have provided deadlines to their deals, I’ve tried to include the end dates.
Adobe (Various Deals): If you’ve avoided Adobe because of their subscription platform, now might be a good time to take advantage of some their recent free extended trials. Adobe first issued 2 free months of creative cloud service to users. Initially it appeared this deal was only for new users and students, though many existing account holders have confirmed they were able to receive the 2 free months as well. Here’s a mention from Adobe on their current cost leniencies and free service deals. More on this can be found on PetaPixel. I suggest reading through the comments section for additional insights from current CC users who were able to receive the deal.
Update: The following are also free up until May 31st 2020: Adobe Talent (on Behance), Adobe Portfolio, all PDF services. Other services are being offered as well, including Adobe Summit; a collection of educational videos and seminars from industry leaders in marketing, business and design. Here’s a full list of the Adobe deals being offered. Surprisingly Adobe has yet to offer any overall discounts for existing Creative Cloud members; which is a shame considering the company’s record profits the past couple of years, and the current financial struggles of many in the creative industries.
Affinity Suite (3 Free Months): Serif (the company behind the award winning “Affinity” design software) is offering a 90 day free trial of their entire suite of products. These include:”Affinity Photo”, “Affinity Designer” and “Affinity Publisher”. And for those who’d prefer to purchase and own their apps, you can take advantage of a generous 50% off discount. These free trials may be extended out further, depending on how things play out.
Affinity Photo is an image editing app used by both designers and photographers. Consider it an alternative to Photoshop. Affinity Designer is both a vector and raster based app that some describe as a combination of Photoshop and Illustrator. And Affinity Publisher offers similar capabilities to InDesign. The apps are available for Mac, PC, and iPad, with the exception of Publisher (which is currently only available for Mac and PC). If you’ve been eye balling the Affinity Suite for some time like I have, or are looking for an alternative to the Adobe subscription based model, now is a great time to take advantage of these great deals. Get y0ur free 90 day trial or 50% Affinity Suite Deal here.
Dribbble Pro (3 Months Free): Dribbble (online portfolio and job finding platform) is offering users 3 free months to upgrade to a pro account, and free access to the freelance project board. These upgrades will allow non pro account holders access to potential design jobs. Create or upgrade your Dribbble Pro account here, and access the freelance project board here.
iThemes (30% Off): If you’re unfamiliar with iThemes, they are best known for their website backup and security plugins “BackupBuddy” and “iThemes Security Pro”. I use both for all of my WordPress and client sites and find them to be some of the best available. If you’re in need of a backup or security solution, iThemes is offering all of their products at 30% off here.
Logo Package Express (25% Discount): This plugin is a game changer for logo designers and has become one of my personal favorite tools. Logo Package Express allows you to create dozens of organized and labeled web and print logo files in various formats in just 5-10 minutes. It sure beats tediously creating numerous files one by one, and eliminates the hassle of maintaining consistent file naming. You can even use this plugin to offer logo packaging as an extra service. If you’re a logo designer, I highly recommend you take advantage of this 25% off sale (currently set for April, though may be extended). Purchase Logo Package Express here, or check out my overview here.
Mockups by Anthony Boyd (Dozens Free): I came across a collection of very nice free mockups that are higher quality than most mockups costing $30 or more. And even better, there are a boat load of them (I stopped counting at 100). It’s pretty amazing that these are offered all at no cost, considering the time invested. If you’re unaware of what a mockup is, it’s an editable document that allows you to display your logos, artwork, etc as if they were printed on actual items. They’re a great way for designers to showcase their portfolio and for brands to present their identity in a polished manner. This collection of free mockups includes everything from business cards and stationery, wall art, watches, computers, and much more. Check out the free mockups here.
Adobe Residence Fund: While this isn’t a financial support fund per say, it’s more of an opportunity for select creatives to pursue personal projects with the financial backing from Adobe. They’ve set aside $1 million and will be giving away $500 to $5000 to chosen creatives who’s projects Adobe feels are deserving of backing. You can learn more about this fund here. Considering Adobe’s record profits in recent years, it would be nice if they considered providing discounts for all current Creative Cloud subscribers, rather than only new members. Especially since many in the design and creative industries are hurting financially from a lack of work.
Covid-19 No Pay Back Govt Loan ($10k): The US Federal Government has made a stimulus package available which offers independent freelancers and small businesses a SBA loan advance of up to $10,000 that does not need to be repaid. If you fit into one of these categories and are in need of assistance, you can learn more and apply here. There are mentions that payments are provided in as quick as 3 days, while others say it can take weeks. My guess is weeks or months considering the rollout of the other relief funds has been very slow. Here’s an interview with an accountant explaining the basics of the no-pay-back loan.
Facebook Small Business Grants: Facebook is offering $100 million in grant funds to assist small businesses experiencing financial hardship due to covid-19. Applicants must meet the following criteria: have between 2 to 50 employees, have been in business for at least one year, have been financially effected by coronavirus, and reside near where Facebook operates. Unfortunately these restrictions (especially the location requirement) rule out most business owners. You can check eligibility and availability of this Facebook small business grant program here.
Format (Photographer Funding): Format (a DIY website building service) is providing a relief fund for photographers who are experiencing financial difficulties during these tough times. If you’re a photographer in need of assistance, you can learn more about the Format relief fund here. Applicants can receive up to $500. If you’re interested in website creation, here’s a free 14 day trial.
Freelance Financial Assistance: Freelancers Union has started a “Freelancers Relief Fund” for freelancers experiencing financial hardship due to Covid-19. This is a donation based effort intended to help out those with expenses not covered by government relief programs. These funds are to assist with things such as food stamps and supplies, utility payments, and cash assistance to cover income loss. If you’re a freelancer in need, you may be able to receive up to $1,000 if you qualify. Learn more about this freelance relief fund here. 100% of the donations will be distributed directly to freelancers.
List Of Various Financial Assistance Resources: FinImpact.com has compiled an extensive list of financial assistance programs from the government, SBA, and more, along with descriptions of each. Consider bookmarking the page for updates. On a side note, Diigo is a very useful free bookmarking tool which runs as an extension on your computer or phone’s internet browser. Unlike folder based bookmarking, it allows you to add tags to web pages for more efficient searching.
100 Business Courses (Free): An extensive collection of free business courses covering a wide range of topics including: branding development, entrepreneurship, marketing, accounting, leadership, communication, and much more. View the free business courses here.
Design Course (Free): This lengthy course titled “Design: the creation of artifacts in society” is intended to make you a better designer. It marries theory and practice, and lays out the fundamental concepts of design in society. Weekly challenges test your ability to apply design ideas to solve real problems. The course is deliberately broad – spanning all domains of design, including architecture, graphics, services, apparel, engineered goods, and products. Learn more about this free design course here.
Dozens Of Creative Courses (Free): “Open Culture” is a great resource for free courses, ebooks, movies and more. I found a collection of 13 free courses pertaining to art, design and photography. These include: introduction courses on visual design, calligraphy and hand writing, digital photography, art history, abstract art and more. It appears some of these courses require you to create a user account, though they are all free. Learn more about these free creative courses here.
Drawing Course (Free): “The Elements of Drawing” is a video course offered by Oxford which covers the fundamentals of drawing; from choosing the right pencil and paper to unleashing your creativity. Access this free drawing course here.
Flash Photography Course (Free): Jared Polin of Fro Knows Photo is offering his “Guide to flash photography” and “Guide to getting out of auto” video courses for free via a “pay what you want” option. These courses typically sell for between $60 and $100. And on top of that, in the next 30 days he’s also giving away a camera or lenses valued at $3,500. Enter to win the free camera / lenses here. Note: you do have to provide your email address for these items, which might be a deterrent, though you can always opt out afterwards.
iThemes Freelance Resources (Free): If you’re unfamiliar with iThemes, they are best known for their website backup and security plugins “BackupBuddy” and “iThemes Security Pro”. They also provide some quality educational materials, which they are now offering at no cost. Check out the extensive collection of freelance related resources (includes training videos, ebooks, etc).
iThemes Training (Free 30 Day Trial): iThemes is also offering a free 30 day trial of their “iThemes Training” (a course pertaining to learning WordPress, taught by top experts).
LinkedIn Courses (Free): Around 18 free video courses relating to business, working remotely, time management, etc. While not specific to “design”, many of my readers are freelancers who might find these helpful. More on these free courses here.
Marketing Course (Free): This no cost online class from Wharton University is taught by three of their top faculty in the marketing department, consistently ranked as the #1 marketing department in the world. This course covers three core topics in customer loyalty: branding, customer centricity, and practical, go-to-market strategies. Check out this free marketing course here.
Nikon Photography Courses (Free): Nikon is offering their entire “Nikon School” online video course collection for free during the month of April 2020. These courses taught by professional photographers typically cost between $15 to $50 each. The provided videos include topics such as: the fundamentals of photography, macro and landscape shooting, the art of making music videos, and environmental portraiture. Access the free Nikon photography video courses here.
Photography Course (Free): This extensive course originally offered at Harvard University explores the artistic aspects, scientific foundations, and techniques of digital photography. It appears to include both pdf documentation as well as video tutorials. Check it this free photography course here.
Photography Life Courses (Free): Now is a good time to learn photography. In additional to numerous other free courses (listed above), Photography Life just released their collection of premium photography courses (normally $150 per course) for free on Youtube. The tutorials range from entry level to experienced professional. View the free photography courses here.
Arcadia Power (Financial Assistance): Arcadia Power is a tech company that provides clean energy worldwide. If you’re already a customer and are experiencing financial hardship with your energy bills, Arcadia is offering financial assistance to those in need. If you’re not a customer and would like to see if the service is available in your area, you can find out here and save $25 off your membership. I became a customer last year and the only difference is my energy bill now goes through Arcadia. To date, this service and it’s participating members have contributed to the equivalent of 243, 768 cars being taken off of the road. While this isn’t a service that’s specific to designers or freelancers, it’s a good way to save a few $ while making our planet a bit cleaner in the process.
Comcast Internet (2 Months Free): For those who are experiencing financial hardship, live in areas where Comcast internet is provided, and are able to qualify, take advantage of this free basic internet service offer. Comcast is also apparently giving existing customers unlimited data usage for the next 2 months and will not disconnect service or charge late fees for those who are unable to make payment. And if you’re unable to acquire in-home internet access, Comcast is providing their Xfinity Wi-Fi at no cost to non subscribers. Learn more about Comcast free internet here.
G-Suite Enterprise (3 Months Free): If you’re an existing G-Suite user, Google is offering free access to their advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities, which typically are only available via the “Enterprise Edition” of G-Suite. Features include: larger meetings (250 participants per call), live streaming (up to 100k viewers), and the ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive. If you’re an internet marketer, these free tools may come in handy. Learn more about this G Suite deal here.
Microsoft Teams (6 Months Free): This tech juggernaut is offering their “Teams” software free to everyone for 6 months. Teams is a tool which allows workers and teams to communicate electronically, and includes a chat based system, video conferencing and file sharing abilities. Learn more about this Microsoft Teams deal here.
Namecheap (Drastic Discounts): Namecheap is one of the more well known places to purchase and host domains. They also provide website hosting, email and vpn services. All of which are currently on sale (.com domains 33% off, .info domains 81% off, .store domains 96% off, web hosting up to 70% off, vpn 65% off, private email 65% off, and more). If you’re in the market for any of these services, now might be a good time to make your move. View the Namecheap discounts here.
PandaDoc (Free): This company specializes in digital document signing, proposal creation and payment processing. And during this pandemic they released a free plan that appears to be quite generous, allowing users free unlimited e-signatures and document uploads with no limit on users either. Considering most digital signing services charge hundreds a year, this seems like a damn good deal. I’ve been using EverSign for my digital signing needs, though I may just let that expire knowing I can save the $120 or whatever I’m spending currently. If you’re a designer and are still requiring your clients to sign and scan project agreements, why not give this a try? See and compare the PandaDoc free plan here.
QuickBooks (50% Off): For the past couple of years I’ve been using QuickBooks Self Employed paired with TurboTax. It’s been a great combo to get more organized with my finances and drastically reduce the time required when it comes tax time. And on top of that there’s an included Intuit invoicing service that comes with QuickBooks. While the invoicing is very rudimentary, it allows no fee bank transfer payments. Note: some users complain about these transfers taking up to a week to process, so if you need your money quickly this form of invoicing might not be the best option for you. If you’re self employed and looking for a better way to keep your finances organized and save money, I recommend TurboTax paired with QuickBooks. You can save 50% off of QuickBooks Self Employed here.
Siteground Hosting (Discount): After nearly a decade of hosting my websites through Hostgator, I finally had enough and switched over to Siteground a few years ago. Gone were the frequent website down issues and having to deal with technical support every other week. While I certainly pay more through Siteground, it’s well worth the peace of mind, improved site speed and not having my website go down constantly because of poorly run shared servers. If you’re a website owner or web developer, I highly recommend Siteground for your website hosting. They are currently offering 3 months of hosting (startup plan only) for just 99 cents.
1Password (6 Months Free): Whether you’re a designer or not, maintaining password security is important. 1Password is a password management service that is removing it’s typical 30 day trial period for business plans, and extending it to 6 months. Learn more about this 1Password free service here.
Bill.com (3 Months Free): This company is a leading provider of cloud-based software that simplifies, digitizes, and automates back-office financial processes for small and mid-sized businesses. Their mission is to make it simple to connect and do business with paper free transaction processing. Learn more or get your 3 free months of Bill.com here.
Box (3 Months Free): I personally use BackBlaze for computer backup and Dropbox for file sharing and backup, but unfortunately neither company is providing any deals to the general public. “Box” is similar in ways though, as they offer file storage, sharing, collaboration, and more. And they’re currently offering 90 free days of their Business service. Learn more about the Box deal here.
Final Cut Pro X (3 Months Free): Apple has followed in the steps of other companies by offering their professional grade video editing software “Final Cut Pro X” free for 90 days. And it appears they will be providing their professional audio software “Logic Pro X” for 90 days as well, though that deal has yet to go live at the time of this writing. Get your free 90 day Final Cut Pro trial here.
FujiFilm Contest ($3,000 Prize): If you’re a college student, FujiFilm is offering $3k in Fuji gear to the winner of their “Students of Storytelling” competition. Interested participants must submit an idea that is “designed to tell a cohesive “story” of a human or life-related experience, event, challenge, objective, relationship, approach, passion, and/or interest that may be depicted and effectively communicated through photographic images or video. I’m not much of a fan for spec-work style contests that require people to submit their time and effort with only a chance of winning, but for those who don’t mind and want the chance to win some great gear, you can learn more about the Students of Storytelling contest here.
Kindle Unlimited (3 Months Free): For non existing Kindle service subscribers, Amazon is offering 2 months of their Kindle Unlimited service at no cost. This includes digital books, audio books and magazines. A good opportunity to learn something new. This sale ends on June 30th, 2020.
Mailchimp (3 Months Free): This email marketing giant already provides free services to those with less than 2,000 newsletter subscribers, though if you have a larger subscriber list (but still under 10k), take advantage of Mailchimp’s free standard plan through June 30th, 2020. Learn more about the Mailchimp deal here.
Paypal Account Leniencies: Paypal is offering some leniencies with it’s service until April 30th, including immediate Paypal to bank money transfers (normally costs extra) so you can receive your funds quicker, a waiving of chargeback fees (when a customer files a dispute), an extension to the time you have to respond to customer disputes (now 20 days), a doubling of cash rewards for your Paypal Mastercard, etc. Learn more about these Paypal leniencies here.
Peloton Fitness App (Free): This company mostly known for it’s exercise equipment also has a fitness app, which they are providing free of charge for the next 90 days. If you’re the type who has a tough time motivating yourself to work out (especially being stuck indoors), see if this free fitness app can help.
RawPixel (680,000 Free Stock Images/Graphics): One of my favorite resources for stock content is rawpixel. Not only do they provide an extensive collection of vintage graphics and vectors, they also have some of the best frame mockups available. While some of their higher quality content (ornate frame mockups, etc) require the purchase of a premium subscription, many of their items are completely free. Normally the free downloads are limited to 5 a day, though as a way to give back during this lockdown rawpixel has lifted the 5 a day restriction and is offering unlimited access to their entire free image collection. This includes over 680,000 stock photos, vectors, graphics, mockups, backgrounds, templates and more. Create your rawpixel account and start downloading. While you’re there check out the frame mockups in their premium section.
Sigma Photo Contest (Thousands in Giveaways): Lens and camera maker Sigma has launched a shoot at home photography contest where they’ll be rewarding winners thousands in prize money and gear. The contest is for photographers and videographers who reside in the U.S. and are 18 years of age or older. Winners will be selected on a weekly and monthly basis all the way up until June 22nd 2020. A grand prize winner will also be announced on July 3rd. Learn more about the Sigma photo contest here.
Sticker Mule ($10 Credit): I’ve ordered stickers from a couple of online print shops, and found Sticker Mule’s to be the best (don’t wear off quickly like others). If you’re a new customer, you can receive a $10 Sticker Mule credit here when you spend $10 or more.
Zencastr Podcast Service (Free): This company allows users to create their own podcast, and is lifting limitations on their “hobbyist” plan, allowing users to take advantage of unlimited guests and unlimited recording. Want to start a podcast on design, freelance, business, etc? Now’s a good time. More on this podcast service deal here.
Hopefully some of you find these deals helpful. I’ll be updating this article as new offerings arrive, so bookmark this page and check back every few days until this craziness has run it’s course. Thanks for reading.